By Mario Van Hamersveld and Willem Brethouwer
Global Insight Leaders Will Be In Demand
The marketing intelligence industry needs insight leaders who are committed to high performance and excellence. They need to be confident and assertive, yet sensitive in the way of they handle their team. They will need to be able to blend classic with more emotional intelligence. They should be charismatic and engender in their team a curiosity that encourages everyone to constantly ask questions to drive the business forward. In addition, insight leaders need to show maximum integrity to their team, company and competitors.
Let’s look at some of the traits of the insight leader.
Big Picture Visionaries
Leaders also need to be able to have a helicopter view. They need to be outside-in thinkers who can look in on an issue from the third corner to see what needs to be done to make sure the insight team, and the organisation, do not flounder because they are working in the minutiae of the issue, rather than on the big drivers of success.
Insight teams need to be motivated if they are to work under continual pressure to challenging deadlines, tight budgets and to high quality expectations. We need leaders who are motivators who can accommodate and respect the demands of millennials and post-millennials working in our industry – each with a different set of employee expectations.
Conceptualisers Who Can Handle Complexity and Shades of Grey
A key trait of most leaders is their ability to know what are the critical complexities that need to be addressed, and to differentiate these from confusing/irrelevant issues that are not critical to a solution. This is all about the ability to identify the key concepts in play. We all feel reassured when we see this in our political leaders but become increasingly nervous then this fundamental conceptual understanding is missing.
Whole Brain Thinkers
Customer insight leaders need to feel comfortable with left and right brain thinking in solving a particular problem. They need to be at ease when deductively working out quite tight puzzles, and at the same time, excel in solving complex problems with possible more inductive reasoning. They need to know when to go for intuitive System 1 thinking, and when to favour more System 2 rational thinking.
Influencers and Persuaders
Our customer insight leaders need to excel at influence and persuasion. They need to at every touch point – at every dialogue with senior stakeholders – be convincing and plausible around what it is they are saying and the judgements they are offering. They must not hide behind their data in the hope that the senior stakeholders will understand. They need to be constantly seen as influential and persuasive.
There are many definitions of what constitutes the entrepreneurial mindset, but essentially this centres on having the ability to constantly take action to solve problems. It is about taking personal responsibility for making things happen. It is about getting the balance right between knowing when some risk is required, as opposed to playing a safer game. So our insight leaders need to have the entrepreneurial gene.
Good leaders will have a full understanding of who they are as individuals in terms of their overall capability skillset. In addition, they will be able to see how their own personal leadership traits and skills fit with other individuals. They will then be able to adapt the relationship between their own style and others depending on different business scenarios and contexts. In the workshop, we will provide a model to help individuals understand who they are and how they think, and what this means in terms of how they should best interact with others to achieve outcomes that are to the mutual advantage of all parties.
Customer insight leaders will be constantly asking these questions: How do I strengthen my impact? How do I make sure I am inspiring all those around me? How do I maximise the potential of my team? How do I make sure that every member of the team is a problem simplifier who radiates energy, rather than a problem confuser who drains the energy from the team?
The ESOMAR Workshop is 12-13 November
The Workshop can help people transform and develop their leadership style. It is not about improving research skills. It also goes beyond sharpening up overall business consultancy skills. It can foster personal growth and leadership skills.
The Workshop is aimed at creating leaders who are the go-to people for the organisation when it wants an informed opinion of what is happening in a particular market or sector. It creates individuals who will be seen as the insight entrepreneurs, who are driving the change agenda for the organisation. But, most importantly, it creates inspiring insight team leaders.
If you want to know more about the workshop, check out the website and register now.
By Mario Van Hamersveld and Willem Brethouwer
By Stephanie Alaimo
To follow Monday’s theme of empathy, Tuesday brought a talk from Annelies Verhaeghe, InSites Consulting (Romania), David van Dongen, SkyTeam International Airline Alliance (Netherlands), Farrell Styers, InSites Consulting (Belgium) and Pieter De Vuyst, InSites Consulting (Belgium). The talk, titled “Research as a Customer Service: How SkyTeam is creating truly consumer-centric research” noted how it is customers, not products or brands that must be at the center of any company. Their aim in their new program was to create a program that truly placed customers at the center of their research – this would reflect not only their business goals, but would also refocus their approach to research.
One of the most interesting findings presented was that in simply asking customers how their experience had been, they felt more valued. Maybe they felt that SkyTeam was empathizing with them? Maybe they even felt empathy for SkyTeam? However they experienced it, customers feet that the brand was talking directly with them, caring about what they had experienced, and cared about any issues they might have had. This effect was even more pronounced, since every customer was asked to respond to research that indicated that their journey had been considered, and taken into account. Since customers could tell that their itinerary had been noted and considered, the research must have felt even more personal – the exact details of their experience were important. This was another finding – people feel most valued not just when they are being asked to participate in research, but when it is clear that their needs and patterns have been noted. Finally, when they are being directly addressed and engaged by a company or brand, they feel that they are actually having a conversation, that their opinion is important, and that they are truly valued.
The research also demonstrated that pictures and stories made the research more usable, more relatable, and more inspiring. Not only was it that having direct communication with consumers made consumers feel more valued, but the brands could also appreciate, and empathize, with customers much more easily when that communication was not only direct, but also visual and contextualized. In essence this research program was a true collaboration between the consumers, the researchers, and the SkyTeam brand. This three way conversation allowed for all parties to feel inspired, and of course, inspiration leads to innovation.
Also in consumer-centric research was a paper presented by Alison Poole and Stacie Haber, both of Mercer (Australia). Opening their talk with the reminder that small insights can make a huge difference, told the story of how Australians were habitually leaving multiple employment-linked retirement accounts open, and as a result paying multiple fees, and missing out on compound interest. They were also frequently losing track of the accounts, since every new job caused a new account to be generated. This amounted to 3 millions of lost account, and 17 billion dollars, all simply because Australians had lost track of their accounts. At first, it seemed obvious that Australians would want to merge all of their accounts into a single account with Mercer. The financial benefits were so very obvious. But, for some reason, they were not consolidating their accounts.
They needed a few small insights in order to figure out why this might be. Not surprisingly, their research revealed that the process of consolidating accounts was tedious and difficult. It required people to have all of their account data, which they obviously did not have. Research also revealed that Australians would be most likely to consolidate accounts in the first 90 days of opening an initial account with Mercer. These two “small” insights led Mercer to give Australians an option : Mercer could hunt down all of their accounts, and consolidate them, if only they had permission. They also began sending reminder emails two weeks after the initial account was opened. With these two changes Australians rushed to combine their accounts with Mercer. The program was a huge success, because the real stumbling block had been removed, and a timely and convenient reminder was sent.
With these two great results, it is no wonder that market research is growing. However, it is also true that budgets for market research are decreasing. Ray Poynter presented “10 Things You Need to Know About Global Research: Key learnings from the ESOMAR 2016 Global Prices and Global Market Research Studies”. But what exactly does it mean for the industry, if research is increasing, while budgets are falling? Poynter found that newer technologies are driving research, lowering costs, and providing more adaptable ways to conduct research. The result then, is not that profit margins for research are shrinking, but rather that research is becoming less expensive to conduct, and that more and more companies globally are seeing the value in conducting market research. What a relief!
Stephanie Alaimo is one of the official RWC bloggers for Congress 2016.
By Christian Kugel
I was chatting with a fellow researcher recently about the state of the industry. Our discussion touched on some of the usual topics – the increasing importance of analytics, the short supply of truly talented people with the right level of experience, and common disconnects between clients and research agencies. At one point, she said something very telling: “The issue is this – I’m supposed to be the methodology expert, and deliver research results accurately and on time, but my job doesn’t end there.” She then elaborated on that comment by describing how in order to have real impact within her organisation, she often needed to wear different hats – sometimes a product developer’s hat, and at other times a sales person’s hat.
I’m sure that feeling resonates with many of us attending this year’s ESOMAR Congress. Over the past several years, the industry has agonised over all the changes we continually face – notably, the pressure for better/faster/cheaper, the rise of big data, and bridging the gap between research and data science. All of those dynamics are certainly true, and they’re also legitimate reasons for anxiety. But I challenge you to name an industry that isn’t facing similar, foundational issues. The reality is that in today’s climate, all industries are confronted with massive disruption and change.
The difference for us, it seems, centers on what my colleague articulates. In addition to being the research experts, who know how to ferret out a consumer insight through rigorous methodology design and data analysis, we are also often expected to simultaneously perform other tasks. Depending on the project, we need to be some combination of storytellers, marketers, product developers, consumer advocates, consultants, and data scientists – while still delivering better/faster/cheaper results. This is what makes our challenge particularly unique and especially difficult.
So, in those moments where the stars align and we get it right, there’s only one thing to say: “Wow!” Think about that last time you saw a piece of work and had that “Wow!” reaction. The kind of work that makes you envious, that makes you wish you had a hand in it. The kind of work that has real, meaningful impact. The kind of work that in hindsight is so incredibly obvious, but took a magical combination of skills and perspectives to generate.
This year at Congress, I invite you to join me for a few days to celebrate and learn from the work that makes us think “#wow.” As you can see, the agenda is packed with an impressive collection, covering different industries, regions and techniques, but they all have one thing in common – the wow factor. I hope that you will enjoy the event, that you will be inspired by the work, and that you’ll take something tangible away from the experience. In fact, I’m willing to bet that due to the sheer diversity of topics and speakers, you will use something tangible you see at Congress within the next two years.
The programme was built to feature an array of how new (and old) challenges were solved, a glimpse into the possibilities of the future, and notable cases of real business impact. Examples include:
- An innovative means for ethnographic research using a food truck
- Agile research techniques aligning to product development cycles
- Stories from challenged emerging markets: Rwanda, Somalia, and Cambodia
- A look at how people spend one of their more precious resources: their time
While presentations is incredibly diverse, the slate of keynote speeches will hopefully cause you to say “Wow!” and challenge you to think differently:
- The result when math and psychology are combined
- Re-imagining market research from a premier business school
- Leadership lessons from a jazz band legend, and
- The unprecedented potential of virtual reality
I am especially excited that New Orleans is the setting for this year’s Congress. It is not only a city rich in history and culture, but also one whose citizens have recently rebuilt in the face of tremendous adversity. For me, the city and its people are pure inspiration. And, it wouldn’t be a proper Congress without an infusion of local culture; this year is no different. We will experience the unique cuisine of New Orleans, its famous jazz music, and even get a taste of Mardi Gras during the awards dinner and ceremony.
Lastly, to acknowledge their tremendous effort in organising Congress and curating its content, I would like to thank the members of the Programme Committee and the professionals at ESOMAR.
Christian Kugel, Programme Committee Chair ESOMAR Congress and VP, Consumer Analytics & Research, AOL, USA
To join the Congress, please visit www.esomar.org/congress – note that the standard registration deadline is 26 August
By Anouk Willems
Time to reflect on the impact of consumer insights
Hello, summertime! For many of us, this is the time of the year when things slow down. Projects are put on hold, colleagues go on holiday, and if meetings can be postponed – they are! I think summer is a great time to reflect on the projects we have done, the rich consumer insights we found, and what the impact has been on the business. To get you started, here are 3 questions to think about:
Did you find rich new consumer insights this past year?
Did you share them extensively with your organization too?
Did your efforts trigger meaningful actions?
If the answer is 3 times ‘yes’, you probably had a very successful year! In most cases however, the last question is often the hardest part and more difficult to manage. Why? Well, after writing detailed market research reports, presenting the consumer insights and organizing ideation sessions, people tend to forget about the consumer insight. The insights are locked away in a PowerPoint report, and we move on to the next project. By doing so, the risk is that we lose sight of our insights, as market researcher Kris Cornelis explains:
“We come up with new insights and then it turns out they were already known. They re-invented the wheel, because only a few people knew.”
Kris Cornelis, Marketing Research at Wolters Kluwer Belgium
Hosting one workshop to generate ideas and translate actions is just not enough. In order to trigger meaningful actions across teams, it’s important to bring insights to life through interaction in a structural way. We do this by giving them a role in (further) shaping the insights. This way, an insight is ever evolving and kept fresh over time. The ultimate goal is that it becomes part of people’s work routines. Or as Florence from Danone describes it:
“Insights should be like a sunrise. A daily habit that brightens your day and gives you direction.”
Florence Pauriac, Strategy & Insights Manager at Danone Dairy
How to start with insight activation
Sounds great, right?! Unfortunately, there is no magic ‘insight activation’ button to push to make this a reality. So, how do we engage employees to collaborate with us and our consumer insights on a more frequent basis? And where do we begin? Let’s take the classical market research study to identify the first opportunities for insight activation.
Before: Harvest the collective mind.
The activation can already start before you find the insights. For example, Telefonica invited stakeholders to complete a SWOT exercise and add their predictions about the research outcomes. By inviting key stakeholders from different teams to share their learnings first, you are able to identify knowledge gaps. This way, you make sure that the insights you will find afterwards are ‘new’ and relevant to your internal stakeholders.
During: Share live updates from the field.
Why wait with sharing inspiring stories you heard or saw during fieldwork? As part of the activation, share striking observations during fieldwork as a teaser for the final insight report. For example, pharmaceutical company UCB decided to post their 2-3 ‘aha’ moments during in home visits and focus groups to spark discussions before the final report was shared. In this case, they used the Insight Activation Studio, a platform to collaborate around insights, observations and ideas.
After: Create empathy to trigger relevant actions.
After identifying the (validated) insights, the next step in activation is to let people recognize them and add their own observations to the insights. By doing so, we are creating more empathy with consumer’s routines and frictions. Once you established empathy with consumer frictions and routines, it forms the perfect start for generating ideas to solve the business problem.
This is also how Danone approached insight activation. After they identified rich shopper insights, they realized it was actually much more relevant for a larger audience than just the shopper teams at Danone. So, they created 6 interactive ‘Walls’ to put the employee in the shoes of the shopper in 6 different scenarios. Such a Wall is an interactive platform where employees can enrich insights by sharing own observations and ideas. For example, the #YoLittleOnes Wall. Parents face a challenge of constantly not giving in when their young children join them for grocery shopping. When kids show good behavior in the store, parents often want to give them a treat. These young kids are often attracted by the colorful packaging of unhealthy snacks. Employees enriched this Wall by sharing their own personal stories, resulting in more consumer centricity outside of the market research team.
Turning insights into memes
To increase the impact of a rich consumer insight and maximize the chance of triggering meaningful actions, all employees across the organization should learn about consumers’ frictions and routines in order to share related observations and ideas and build on them. When such an insight is replicated by employees and augmented with their own observations and ideas, shared with various people across the organization and triggers action, the insight becomes a ‘meme’.
I believe that many insights today are still locked away in reports, but have the potential to become a meme. What will be your ‘memes’ the coming year? Will this be your ‘summer of insights’? And how will you activate your insights when summer is over?
Anouk Willems is Head of Insight Activation Studios at InSites Consulting